Ontario Tories Vow Same Deficit-Clearing Timeframe As Liberals, Unveil New Platform Measures
(CBC) -- Ontario's Progressive Conservatives would eliminate the provincial deficit by the 2017-18 fiscal year — the same timeframe the Liberals have pledged — and restrict welfare to people who have lived in the province for at least a year, according to the full election platform the party released Sunday.
Other measures not previously announced include a plan to force public sector unions to "compete" with the private sector for delivering government services "where appropriate." The party suggests areas like laundry and food preparation in public institutions.
The Tories would also keep to the Liberal government's scheduled rollout of full-day kindergarten, something PC Leader Tim Hudak had previously called a frill.
Hudak already disclosed several major platform items in a speech Saturday to party faithful gathered in Toronto.
Those items included modest personal tax cuts that would save $258 a year for someone making $70,000, income-splitting for households (yielding up to $1,363 in annual tax relief for single-income couples) and $8 billion in total additional spending on health and education.
The Tories call their policy manual Changebook and are hoping Ontario voters will want a new government after eight years of Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberals.
"There's a little bit more detail on some of the promises we've heard already. The HST exemption on hydro and home heating would be brought in in 2012," CBC Radio reporter Mike Crawley said.
"But the Conservatives are not saying when they would bring in the promised income tax rate cut and income splitting."
The Liberals called the PC platform "dark and angry" and slammed its fiscal components.
"He's moving numbers around like they're on a monopoly game," Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli said. "The numbers don't add up. It's going to damage this province very, very significantly."
The full PC platform says the party will try to tame the province's $16-billion deficit by 2018. Part of that effort will involve slashing the civil service and public-sector wages, which the document says have been bloated by "excessive contracts" awarded in arbitration. Hudak has pledged about $2.3 billion in government spending cuts.
On welfare, the Tory policy manual says "it's only fair" that recipients show a "commitment to Ontario" by living in the province for at least a year before becoming eligible.
The Liberals have yet to release their campaign platform, as have the New Democrats under Leader Andrea Horwath.
Ontarians go to the polls Oct. 6.